Observations, Chapter 1

It boggles my mind how some people have such inconsistent opinions on the government’s role in the economy.

  • When the economy is doing well, the government is expected to stay out of our businesses and not take any of our hard-earned money. This is supposed to be a capitalistic democracy, after all!
  • When the economy is doing poorly, it is the government’s fault. It falls on them to fix the economy. All of a sudden we have a command economy. If the economy recovers, we forget that we were begging for salvation from the government and call it “the market regulating itself.”
  • It is the current president’s fault. Problems didn’t arise out of involved developments deeply connected to the world and the economic situation of previous decades, they arose precisely when the presidential throne started warming a different politician’s bum.
  • The economic situation will change (“for the better” is the current opinion) the moment a new president is inaugurated.

To hear such opinions, you’d think this country was neither a democracy nor a socialist state, but a kingdom.

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Current personal organization practices

Or Personal Information Management (PIM) if you prefer. There’s also a Part 2 and a Part 3.

I’m in love with organizing things. Plans, schedules, documents, boxes, information… anything that can be categorized and rearranged in some optimum way draws my attention and receives my efforts. I was the kind of kid that, once done playing with Legos, would take them apart and put the pieces together in their proper compartments. As a high school kid I started collecting all my digital documents and creating what has become a permanent archive of all (meaningful) digital files that I have touched since 2005. I am the sort who swoops down on your computer and doesn’t let it go until I have resolved every issue and organized every file (people really should learn to make use of nested folders more).

Currently I’m trying to organize my time. As an unemployed bum living at his parent’s house, I have a lot of unstructured time (not exactly free time, though). There are lots of things that I want and will do during this time, but my own laziness, lack of focus, and general lack of discipline will destroy my plans unless I take charge. So I’ve developed my own system for keeping me on track. It’s a very unrefined prototype, and I have a few ideas on how to potentially make it much better. For now, however, I’d like to share the system here and maybe track its evolution.

This is my reasoning behind the current setup. My days are often filled with interruptions that cannot be avoided. We all have unforeseeable but nevertheless necessary responsibilities. Therefore, a traditional schedule wouldn’t easily work; it’s too rigid. So I just took the “things to do on this day” element of it and designed an “activity quota” for each day. In a spreadsheet I list my desired activities in rows while columns contain the days I’d like to spread those things over. For each day I pick a decent and well-balanced mix of items and distribute my 24 hours across those activities.

image of my prototype unemployment schedule (v 0.1)
My prototype unemployment schedule (v 0.1)

As you can see above, each day column adds up to 24 and each row adds up to the amount of time I decided to spend on those activities per week.

You’ll notice a few features that I built in. First, buffer time. There is often transition time between activities. This allotment gives me the flexibility to be inefficient (completely unavoidable in any schedule) without officially breaking the quota (and, more importantly, the resultant guilt and discouragement). Second, catch-up time. In those cases where the buffer time isn’t enough to offset inefficiency (e.g., taking a long trip to a nearby city as my family often does for shopping) I have set a little time to catch up on lost productivity. I didn’t think that an hour every day was necessary, though. I’ll of course adjust these two values as I go along. My theory is that, given enough such time, you can distribute your remaining time among activities and accomplish them. A third feature is prioritization. I make sure to set apart the most important activities so that I can choose to do the critical things before less important activities. In my example, all those things highlighted in grey are generally more important than the others.

Each day I write down my daily activity quotas on some old note cards to carry with me. Priorities on the left, the rest on the right. Boxes and circles next to them represent hours and half-hours, respectively, and I fill them in as I accomplish them. At the bottom I write notes on what happened. So far they have only been reasons for not doing everything, but in theory I could also write what the “catch-up” activity was, blogging topics that come to mind, and other useful info that I want to remember or record.

Finally, I record my activities on another spreadsheet. Same rows, but one column for each date. Intersecting cells record time spent. I can later use formulas to determine how much time I’ve spent on activities (and compare to how much I planned on doing those), see what reasons I most often gave for breaking the quota (so I can tackle those issues in a different way), etc. You know, data mine the results of my little project.

In the future I’ll talk about possible improvements once I get more ideas and more experience with this funky system. Please share any suggestions you might have, I’m open to all ideas.

Go ahead and read Part 2 if this post tickled your fancy, and Part 3 if you really liked it.

Furniture

I’m sick of midget furniture for tiny people. Everywhere I sit, my legs just don’t meet the floor at the right angle. Every table requires me to hunch down to it. And it’s a problem that has gone unchallenged for far too long. I’m going to find, modify, or create my own man-sized furniture whenever I can. Let the tiny people of the world beware.

This is just one of a certain category of problems that I have often thought about. It’s painfully obvious if you manage to think about it for just one second. The problem: we don’t think. We just accept it. I can only conjecture on why people just accept it, but the fact is that they (we) do. I am of the philosophy that if we could just use our eyes and our collective creativity, we could become aware of problems that we never realized were problems, and that’s the first big step toward fixing them. I think that the solutions to most of these problems are ridiculously simple (build tall furniture for tall people). And as all my friends know, I’m big on solving problems.

From Whence

This post must defend this blog’s chosen title, a move which is as distasteful this early in its existence as it is necessary. Fortunately, it’s short.

Basically, this. In summary, the phrase “from whence,” though technically and logically redundant, has been in use by even excellent writers (Shakespeare, Dickens, Twain) since the 13th century, whereas its denouncement has apparently arisen mostly in the 20th.

I hate that I’m basically claiming the norm as sufficient justification, but I chose the name when I was much younger and had no clue there was something objectionable about it. So yeah. That’s the name.

By the way, find me on facebook.com/from.whence. If you want.

Velcome

’tis my blag.

You are velcome to peruse it at your leisure. Should you vish to comment on my vritings or contact me, only a small effort is required.

This blag shall be about myself and my misadventures as a person living life. For nov I am purposefully unemployed; I vant to focus my time on some personal development that I have often vished to undertake. Of course, I also vant to lay about and do nothing sometimes. College vas tough and I am going to take a break. Only for a little vhile. Vill move forvard and make progress in more traditional vays soon enough, don’t you vorry. Vhether I shall continue to post here after gainful employment is beyond my povers of prognostication (because I have no such povers).

Topics that I plan to discuss include Language, Self-Improvement, Technology, Spirituality, and Life in General. You may peruse the provided categories for related posts. I may also vrite about Other Random Crap at my discretion.

This post vas brought to you by the letter VV.